The Hyattsville Police Department is implementing a new program this month that proposes officers have mandatory meetings with psychologists.
The purpose of this new initiative is to remove the stigma of asking for help and talk about the importance of mental health. The department hopes to offer the sessions four times a year.
Adrienne Augustus, the mental health programs manager for the Hyattsville Police Department, said it's clear that change is needed across the country.
“Our law enforcement community is made up of humans, right? So we want to make sure that not only are they okay in their personal lives, but also with whatever traumas and stressors they may experience on the job,” Augustus said.
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The police department will also offer training on crisis intervention and how to manage people with mental illness, PTSD and autism.
Acting Police Chief Scott Dunklee said these training will help the officers serve the community better.
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“The more we can be empathetic and know how to deal with things, it’s gonna be, make us serve our customers better,’ Dunklee said.
For Augustus, it's a cause that strikes home.
“I have lost a friend to a police shooting when he was experiencing a mental health crisis,” Augustus said. “To be able to carry this legacy forward in this way and make a difference, just, it means a lot to me.”
The police department also plans to offer meditation sessions for first responders.